Sports News

Vratislav Lokvenc, photo: CTK

In Sports News: the Czech Republic beat Finland 4:3 in a dramatic World Cup qualifier; reigning champions Zlin keep themselves in the semi-finals of the ice hockey Extraliga with a playoffs win over Vitkovice; Czechs Novak and Stepanek are through to the fourth round at the Miami Masters; and Olympic medallist Rudolf Kraj wins his first professional boxing match.

Milan Baros,  photo: CTK
The Czech Republic's footballers notched up an important win in Teplice on Saturday, beating Finland 4:3 in a qualifying game for next year's World Cup in Germany. First on the score-sheet, after just seven minutes, was Milan Baros with his first international goal since Euro 2004. Twenty-five minutes later man-of-the-match Tomas Rosicky extended the Czechs' lead with a free kick.

Vratislav Lokvenc,  photo: CTK
The second half was even more entertaining, perhaps too much so. After Jan Polak made it 3:1 following a marvellous run from Rosicky, the Czech Republic should have shut up shop. Instead they allowed Finland to score twice more in the last 20 minutes, and looked close to throwing the game away. Then, with three minutes remaining, a moment of high drama: Petr Cech made a great save, the Czechs swept the ball upfield, Tomas Jun made space for Lokvenc, and he made no mistake, blasting the ball into the back of the net. Here's that man, Vratislav Lokvenc.

"I really concentrated, I knew I was alone in front of goal. I just tried my best to shoot well and I managed to score. I felt that I could score because the crowd was really spurring us on until the very last minute. I think we deserved to win."

Saturday's win leaves the Czech Republic one point behind Holland in their group. On Wednesday they are away to Andorra.

Hame Zlin - Vitkovice,  photo: CTK
Things are coming to a head in the semi-final playoffs in the Czech Extraliga. Reigning champions Hame Zlin could have been knocked out of the competition on Sunday, as they went into their match with Vitkovice trailing 1:3 on games in the best of seven series. But Zlin managed to keep themselves in it, with a 5:2 win. In the other semi-final series, Pardubice extended their lead over Liberec to 3 games to 1, after a 4:0 away win.

Czech tennis number one Jiri Novak has reached the last 16 at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami, after his third-round opponent Tommy Robredo of Spain pulled out due to injury. Novak plays Thomas Johansson of Sweden in the next round. Fellow Czech Radek Stepanek plays Tim Henman of Britain in the fourth round, after knocking out Jeff Morrison of the USA.

Boxer Rudolf Kraj, who took silver at the Sidney Olympics, has made a successful start to his professional career. Kraj, who fights at cruiser weight (175 to 200lbs), knocked out fellow Czech Tomas Mrazek in the first round of their fight in Riesa, Germany on Saturday.